Houstonia caerulea (Bluets) - a photographic essay

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Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

mark
I agree that H. caerulea does not get the credit it deserves. We always want what is hard to grow! 8)

I tried H. caerulea last year for the first time. Planted in the full shade of my moist north facing bed with sprinklers set to go off twice a day every other day. It did well in the spring and was still alive in the fall but no sign of it this spring. I will have to try Panayoti's method and grow it as a bog plant in dappled shade. I wonder if our humidity is too low?? I know that even with the water I put down, the ground was never what I would call wet for more than half a day. I thought full shade would work better since we are at 4000' and the UV rays are intense. So intense more than one occasion badly sun burned cacti cuttings from lower elevation sights.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Hoy
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Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I have tried bluets twice but they disappear after a year or two. And the humidity here is certainly not too low! On the contrary I think of trying this little gem on drier land and with more sun.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

harold peachey
harold peachey's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-03-22

I was in Marcellus NY yesterday (yes that Marcellus of the shale) and observed entire neighborhoods with Houstonia carpets right in the lawns.  I have started some from seed from the sewed ex and hope to establish them in my ever diminishing lawn.

Harold Peachey
USDA Z5, Onondaga, NY US

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Peachey wrote:

I was in Marcellus NY yesterday (yes that Marcellus of the shale) and observed entire neighborhoods with Houstonia carpets right in the lawns.  I have started some from seed from the sewed ex and hope to establish them in my ever diminishing lawn.

Harold: glad to hear you have an ever diminishing lawn, I've got one of those too ;D  Yes, the frustrating part of Houstonia, it always seems that the best looking ones grow in other people's lawns.  That said, I'm convinced with my find of an extraordinary colony of H. caerulea here locally, that there is definitely genetics involved; there are forms that clump up and flower prolifically, seed well, and appear to be strong growers, too often there are weak forms that bloom more sparsely and tend to be short-lived.  So, one never knows where the seed comes from through Seedexes.  I do hope to collect seed from my plants, to donate to NARGS, as I've never seen such excellent forms before.  I shall also be revisiting the colony in a week and a half with my running shoes on and camera in hand, the day of the Groton 10K Road Race.

Trond:  yes, for your climate I suggest trying Houstonia in more sun, and in a drier spot.  The best ones are typically in full sun to high, open, partial dappled shade. 

John:  I don't know how to advise you to grow Houstonia caerulea in your 6"-per-year of rain desert climate.  Perhaps the reverse of what I recommend for Trond, do as you suggest and grow in shade or dappled shade.  Not sure about the bog thing though, these tend to be dry growers, although they can luxuriate in moister soil while growing first thing in spring.  Just as an experiment, try growing in partial shade in a clay soil.  As an aside, you might also have a better chance than those of us in wetter climates, to grow Houstonia rubra, a small bun-forming western dryland species.

Good luck everyone growing this plant... the first thing I do each day when going out to the garden, is run over to my fledgling Hosutonia colony and gaze for a while  :D

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Mark
Luckily! I have a pot sown with H. rubra. I have my fingers crossed. They are cute little things! From the shot I saw the flowers are flat, pale pink, four bladed pinwheels. They have a stiff, waxy look.
The leaves are narrow gray/green succulent fingers, typical dry climate adaptations.
I have high hopes of growing it.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

On then anniversary of my finding a terrific Houstonia caerulea patch, this past weekend I once again entered a 10k roadrace, followed by scouting around the grounds of a business that allowed runners to park and shuttle from.  I found a couple different patches of Houstonia, but in one wooded hollow just in front of the building, there were drifts of Anemone quinquefolia in flower, and the diminutive Panax trifolius.

1.  View of the deciduous wooded hollow and driveway passing around it.  Here Houstonis grew best at the fringes where they received more light, and were fiound as only small individual non-clumping plants in the shadier spots.

2.  Small and large patches of Anemone quinquefolia, very attractive but short-lived in bloom.

3.  Only a little bit of variation with A. quinquefolia, there were dark-leaf forms, but with normal white flowers.

4.  There were a few A. quinquefolia tinged pink on the back of the petals.  Flowers that go over, turn beige.

5.  A. quinquefolia, Panax trifolius, and Linnaea borealis

6.  View of woodland edge, with variable populations of Houstonia caerulea.

7-9 Variable forms of Houstonia caerulea

10.  Lots of bluets, can you spot the one 5-petalled flower... it is just an aberration on normal 4-petalled plants.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

You had to do a fast run to have time to look for flowers!
Reminds me of once I was looking for plants in a wood here and came "exploding" out of a thicket just in front of a unsuspecting lady (had not seen her) walking on the path. I think she is still running...

The Houstonias  are marvellous! And the A. quinquefolia too. They are a little different from A. nemorosa. Panax trifolius looks like a fine woodland plant (I am always hunting for plants that will grow in my woodland).

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

After a full month of flowering, the plants are getting bigger and more floriferous than I imagined they would, there appears to be no end of flowering in sight.  They have certainly exceeded my expectations.  And I'm glad too, that my attempt to pick snippets off a variety of forms has paid off, as under more optimal conditions without competition from grass, their special characteristics become amplified.  The large-flowered blue one has petals that curve upwards, thus has a different look to the flowers.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

You are tempting me!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

harold peachey
harold peachey's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-03-22

I got this plant last year as Houstonia serpyllifolia very nice blue growing an a small bog garden.

Harold Peachey
USDA Z5, Onondaga, NY US

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